Premier League

Hughes backs Zabaleta

City boss can't understand why defender is not in Argentina squad

Zabaleta: Argentina omission

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Mark Hughes has admitted his surprise after new Argentina boss Diego Maradona failed to name Pablo Zabaleta in his latest squad.

The Argentines ended up beating Venezuela 4-0 to go second in the South American World Cup qualifying section but the Manchester City boss remains perplexed as to why the defender keeps getting overlooked.

The reasoning becomes even harder to fathom when you consider that the 24-year-old was an ever-present for the Argentina side which won Olympic gold in Beijing at the start of the season.

The former Espanyol ace has been one of City's most consistent performers this season and the Welshman indicates that Maradona could have easily come and seen him when he visited Manchester United and Liverpool earlier this year.

"Maradona has been about 300 yards from our training ground, so he only needed to pop in," he told the club's official website.

"Pablo is still a young player and I'm sure his time will come, because he is doing fabulously well in the hardest league in the world.

"Maradona is aware of him but it is his decision.

"As managers we stand or fall by our decisions, and so will he."